Fordham student on probation after posting photo of fallen officer and a tribute to Tiananmen Square.

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THE BRONX, N.Y.- A student at Fordham University has been placed on probation by the institution relative to an Instagram post where he chose to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China.

Breitbart News is reporting that Austin Tong, a senior, chose to pose with a legally obtained rifle in order to symbolize the resistance of pro-Democracy activists in that country.

 

The incident was reported by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)  and said that Tong had been placed on probation over the Instagram post which featured him holding the rifle. The rifle was unloaded, and he posed while utilizing proper firearm safety practices.

Tong had apparently caught the attention of Fordham administrators previously when he had the audacity to post a photo on Instagram of retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn, who was gunned down by looters during the riots following the death of George Floyd.

“Y’all a bunch of hypocrites,” Tong wrote at the time. Tong said that he was frustrated over the “nonchalant societal reaction” to Dorn’s murder, FIRE said.

Apparently, that is not allowed since evidently free speech, at least from conservative (or anti-Black Lives Matter narrative) voices are no longer permitted on college campuses.

Tong was told that both Instagram posts were “concerning.”

They told Tong that the posts had violated policies on “bias and/or hate crimes” and “threats/intimidation.”

Tong has been barred from campus during the probationary period and they have demanded he attend bias training. He is also unable to take leadership roles in student organizations or participate in athletics.

FIRE sent a letter to Fordham advising them that it was inappropriate to punish Tong in response to speech he made on social media.

“When Tong immigrated to the United States from China at six-years-old, his family sought to ensure that he would be protected by the rights guaranteed by their new home, including the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms,” the letter read.

“Here, however, Fordham has acted more like the Chinese government than an American university, placing severe sanctions on a student solely because of off-campus political speech.”

According to the Daily Caller, Tong was advised last month by Fordham’s Dean of Students, Keith Eldredge, that he was under investigation  for the posts.

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Tong said that what Fordham did to him is a “total disgrace.”

“While what happened to me is a total disgrace, I hope to use my example as an opportunity for the millions of people out there that fear to freely speak, and to protest the serious case of speech censorship in college campuses,” he told FIRE.

He continued, “As the country is facing a disastrous constitutional crisis, it is no time to stay silent, and we have been silent for way to long. It only takes the courage of the few to spark the patriotism of many,” he said.

“We will use this opportunity to let the world know that now is the time that we must speak loudly, fight for our rights, and let those who silence speech know they will face consequences.”

In March 2018, Breitbart News reported that Fordham officials had punished a campus coffee shop when they ejected pro-Trump students.

In their letter to Fordham, Program Officer Lindsie Rank of FAIR also said:

“While Fordham is a private university and thus not legally bound by the First Amendment, it is both morally and contractually bound to honor the explicit, repeated, and unequivocal promises of freedom of expression it has made to its students.”

This isn’t the first time that Fordham has inserted itself into political speech. The university is currently appearing a court decision which found the institution had violated their own promise of freedom of expression in the censoring of a  pro-Palestinian student organization, FIRE said.

That isn’t the only lawsuit the school is facing. Tong himself announced on his Instagram Friday that he is suing Fordham.

“After 3 days, @fordhamuniversity has arrogantly ignored the media & us. No more waiting. I’ve decided to sue Fordham. Seeing all of your msgs, I know this will be a fight for many not one. Please donate to this fundraiser and we’ll get the fight started,” he posted, then linked to a GoFundMe page.

According to FIRE’s website, the Bronx based university has the organizations worst rating for free speech, and “makes frequent appearances on FIRE’s ‘Worst Colleges for Free Speech’ list.”

FIRE is described on it’s page as a “nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of liberty.”

 

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